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ICT4Gov in EI

Through the group we will seek to see how best to use social media to have transparency in Extractive industry practices

Members: 16
Latest Activity: Feb 23

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Using ICT for development

Started by Victor Ngeny. Last reply by Charles Young Apr 28, 2011. 3 Replies

This is a post I have been preparing for along time, thanks to Kathrin for reminding me to publish it.ICT tools and in particular social media have been things that has been close to me heart for…Continue

Tags: industry, wildlifedirect, community, extractive, GEI

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Comment by Kathrin Frauscher on May 29, 2010 at 14:46
I recently read about an interesting project from Independent Radio Network in Sierra Leon - radio stations make government spending information publicly available via radio.

Do you know of other examples that use ICT to enhance transparnecy in EI?

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Problem Definition

Decentralisation, introduced in 2004, was recommended by the TRC as one of the primary answers to Sierra Leone’s problems of over-centralised power and marginalisation of rural, largely illiterate populations, which contributed to the country’s descent into a brutal civil war. Following the 2004 Local Council elections, citizens had extremely high expectations of the newly formed Councils. Confidence in the new structure, which has tax collecting responsibilities, means that residents need to understand how resources are allocated and the constraints around their availability. Yet the Councils have been extremely opaque in their dealings, reporting to donors rather than their constituents.

Project Description and Objectives

SFCG uses its production capacities—Talking Drum Studio (TDS)—to develop the Accountability Now (AN) radio programme, in partnership with the stations of IRN. AN bridges communication around Councils’ financial management—helping citizens understand what their council was doing, and providing the information for them to hold their representatives to task for delivering on their promises. Jointly produced by three radio stations—one from each district in the region—with technical assistance and coaching from TDS staff, AN shares the income and expenditure statements from those districts, which are required by law to be publicly available. This joint production is then aired on the three participating stations, putting information out for government officials and residents alike.

Grouping the districts together creates a competitive mechanism while managing expectations, as citizens see how their Council is performing in comparison to others in the region. It mobilises citizens to ask questions of their Councils about priorities and progress towards outlined plans. With information available monthly, citizens can see what kind of resources are available for development in their area, how their taxes are being used and track variances in spending that might signal corruption.

At the same time, AN helps Councillors better communicate with citizens, providing a platform to explain new taxes and other revenue generation strategies as well as the challenges that they face in implementing projects that the population is demanding. AN has opened a two-way channel of communication between the local government and the citizens it is intended to serve.
Innovation
AN represents the first time that government spending information has been publicly available via radio, the primary source of information in Sierra Leone. It introduced a new mechanism for transparency that pushed the envelope on governance practices locally, in an approach that brought the Councils on board around their own interests of managing expectations and increasing tax payments. It has developed a loyal listenership, with people writing down and saving the figures reported each month for comparison with those announced in the next programme. Production in partnership with IRN stations has strengthened sustainability, rooting the programme in local institutions.
Demonstrated Development Impact
AN has seen citizens and civil society become more active in demanding transparency and accountable behaviour from their leaders. The programme has revealed instances of corruption, and Council Chairmen have been removed from their posts as a result. At least four cases have been uncovered, which were then pursued by civil society. The programme has also served to generate increased revenue for the Councils through information campaigns on the purpose of taxes and how they are being spent. As people have better understood why they are paying taxes to government, they have become more willing, making more money available for local development projects. Radio stations have been active in following up on issues raised in AN, pursuing issues and problems.
Scalability
Currently Accountability Now is produced at the regional level (combining 3-4 districts per region) on a quarterly basis. SFCG would like to scale the program up to regional productions on a monthly basis, which requires additional coaching, follow-up, and support. SFCG would also like to introduce the model in neighbouring Liberia, where the decentralisation process is getting underway. In Liberia, SFCG has strong partnerships with community radio stations, and can draw on the best practices and lessons learned in Sierra Leone for innovative community radio formats that increase transparency and accountability at the local level.
 

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